Jolina Pettice

How Social Media & Email Marketing Boost Customer Reach

Jolina Pettice     MIMA Summit, Online Marketing, Social Media

For years, rumors have circulated that email marketing is dying and teenagers the world over have proclaimed email as, “something old people do”.  Email & Social Networking

Whether you agree or disagree that email has one foot in the grave, many online marketers are finding effective ways to leverage email as part of a social media marketing mix. Integrating email and social media was the topic of discussion at a session during the MIMA Summit last week with Loren McDonald, VP of Industry Releations, SilverPop and Brian Brown, Director of Modern Marketing, ideapark.

Social sharing options embedded in online content have helped increase distribution and reach for thousands of web sites. One of the most common ways email has been used in a social context is “Forward to a Friend”.  However, the tried and true ‘Forward to a Friend’ link has less than .1% CTR, so many marketers have taken it upon themselves to find a new way to circulate content amongst networks.

Alternatively, there is  the ‘Share to Social’ (S2S) link. While  S2S is relatively new, a .5% CTR gives early reason to be optimistic according to a Silverpop study.

The Silverpop Share-to-Social study also reported that S2S is likely to result in sharing of content with 150 to 200 people on average. In contrast, a “forward to a friend” link may reach an additional 1 to 2 people. Share to social use results in a 24% increase in reach on average.

How does Share-To-Social (S2S) Work?  S2S is a call to action such as ‘Share this Newsletter’ followed by graphical links to various social network or content sharing sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, StumbleUpon and so forth. all within the email message.

If you look at most blogs and online publishers, social sharing buttons are not anything new.  In fact, TopRank created one of the first tools for blogs to embed social bookmarking buttons over 3 years ago. Posting them within email messages, however, is catching on and there are a few guidelines to follow for successful integration:

Understand what motivates subscribers to share
People share for different reasons including:

  • Self Interest: People share because they think they will be rewarded. i.e. sweepstakes
  • Altruism: sharing makes them feel good
  • Validation: sharing feeds the ego
  • Affinity: sharing makes people feel more a part of the community
  • Prurience: sharing makes people feel less guilty for gawking

Target the right social networks and media
Is the use of 4 or 5 networks the right number? If not, how many is?

Be sure to do your homework and identify on which social sites your target audience is spending time. Of those, on which sites are they interacting or sharing content the most?

Once you have this identified, don’t shut down the research. Continue to follow the target audiences to make sure they aren’t migrating to a new site leaving you unaware.

Keys to targeting the right networks:

  • Utilize 3rd party research
  • Survey subscribers/monitor network activity
  • Test and analyze click/share activity
  • Identify subtrends i.e. high value sharers
  • Kill the losers

Educate subscribers on how/why to share
Despite the growth, ‘sharing’ is still early among some audiences.

Alongside the ‘share this’ buttons, consider adding a ‘what’s this’ button and give them instructions on how and why to use the feature.

Encourage people to share. Placing the links on the page/email may not be enough. Just like with anything marketing, you need to include call to actions to get people interacting.

Once you have integrated S2S, the next step is to identify high value sharers. Who are the ‘few’ people that often share your content and have a larger than average network?

Optimize email sharing design and link location
Where to put the links?

Test different placement of the ‘share this’ links. Top, Middle, Bottom, Sidebar etc.

At the very least, by moving it around you can avoid users getting used to seeing it and therefore ignoring it.

Eight ways to create shareworthy content:

  1. Trustworthy – Brand and source of content or offer is widely known and trusted
  2. Tap into Tribes – Message content speaks to tribal groups within subscriber base
  3. Obvious – Essence of the email content to be shared is obvious, simple to grasp
  4. Easy to Share – Sharing links are easy to find and use
  5. Social Acumen – Targets the right social networks and social acumen of subscribers
  6. Creates Value – Must provide value or recipients will not share
  7. Rewards/Incentives
  8. Great Content

What B2B emails are shareworthy? Articles and statistics.

What’s not shareworthy? Long newsletters, negative news and highly personalized emails.

Analyze, test and refine for increased sharing

Test – what’s working and what’s not including:

  • Copy
  • Link style
  • Link location
  • Broad vs narrow focus messages
  • Viral-only messages
  • High-value sharers

Key Takeaways for integrating social networks and email:

  • Narrow your network focus
  • Make it easy to share
  • Determine what your subscribers find most ‘shareworthy’
  • Identify and reward your key influencers
  • Test everything and don’t be afraid to fail

At our agency TopRank, we’ve been implementing email marketing programs in conjunction with other online marketing and lead generation efforts including social media for 5 years. A good starting point to improving email effectiveness is to read some of the better email marketing tactics online and this recent post from WebProNews on why social media isn’t replacing email.

Are you implementing email marketing with social networking? (outside of the emails that occur within the social network) What have you found to be the best/worst practices?

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  1. Avatar Elizabeth_H says

    S2S is becoming increasingly important in any copy that a company puts before their customers. You were right on in talking about making your content sharable. If you must have a piece that is rather long, make sure to have a summery that then includes a link to your full copy. This is more likely to be shared and increase your click through rate.

  2. Great content Jolina. We are seeing some of the same things at StrongMail as we work with clients to Socialize email marketing. Here are some resources to help interested parties dig deeper into the opportunity!

  3. Is it better to make viral messages over social media or through e-mail? Can it be that newsletter is good spin off for starting viral campaign?

  4. This is a great post. I like the takeaways, and I love how you broke it down into a process. Determining the right networks is always what I tell my customers when they want to use my software. After they have their networks and know what they are doing, they need to make sure that their profile is set up to pull the visitors in. Besides that it's a matter of after they have added all of those friends from their niche, they need to make sure that they stay in contact with the people they get from it, and value them, and reward them and brag about them. The latter has been the most important factor in successful social networking campaigns so far.

  5. Avatar strategic_growth_advisors says

    Insightful, informative and very timely. “Something that old people do,” eh? Thanks for emphasizing that creating an innovative mix of social media and email marketing can bring explosive results.

  6. Avatar recognition says

    I do not think email would die, but tools like Google wave will radically change our vision about social media and email

  7. Avatar jason200620 says

    Cool blog! I commented here before, its nice to know there are still some great posts out there. Thanks for the great info.
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  8. Avatar jason200620 says

    cool site! great info. Jason

  9. Avatar goodwillmarketing says

    We recently stopped our emailed enews and communicated to our subscribers that there were two new ways to get our company news… via our online community or by subscribing to our new blog RSS feed. I explained how to use an RSS feed and included a list of FAQ about RSS feeds. I think people will appreciate not getting as much “pushed” email in their inboxes, and they'll like the option of having it available conveniently in a reader anytime they want to check or get alerted. We had a 15-20% open rate on the enews, but it was taking too long to create it, having a substanial amount of news to warrant it, etc. We are in B2B — but I found that Twitter, of all things, is very useful in our marketing communications (and not personal life). I don't have to wait and hold “news” until the next eNewsletter anymore. ONE LAST THING — the biggest problem I see with the S2S is having to login at the social site after I click a sharing link… too many passwords etc. That is a big issue and many times causes me to just back out and go do something else I can do right away. Just my thoughts and latest…

  10. Maggie, what kind of research? Industry & marketplace research or ongoing social media monitoring/brand monitoring?

  11. Avatar jason200620 says

    Cool blog! I commented here before, its nice to know there are still some great posts out there. Thanks for the great info. Oh, and Happy Halloween! 🙂
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  13. Avatar agsmarketing says

    Interesting article with some good tips. Thanks.

  14. The call to action is the most important. Its amazing what people will do when you just ask them.

  15. I find this article very interesting. This can help me with my site.

  16. Thank you for sharing and giving me great ideas on how to use S2S.

  17. I think emails will be around for a long time very good read!

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  18. I do not agree that email has one foot in the grave. If that was true, what does that say about me? However, I'm no old stick in the mud. I find the use of an S2S link to be a unique way of hitting target markets. Most people swim in the same pools even though that is even changing a bit. A blog article, etc. shared with an acquaintance to whatever degree is bonus exposure. I would guard against them being an annoyance and/or popping up everywhere.

  19. Here's an article about a study that finds Gen Y more reluctant to give up email (and text messaging) than social networks.

  20. Avatar Keri Allred says

    I don't think email will die either, but it will evolve, as it is now, into something new, more like the sms marketing.

  21. Avatar Keri Allred says

    I don't think email will die either, but it will evolve, as it is now, into something new, more like the sms marketing.